Over the winter, there’s constantly a struggle between staying comfortable and lowering your heating bills. Some people think that it’s better to keep your furnace lower and use a space heater where you want more heat. However, is that always a good option, or is it better to adjust your furnace? Consider the differences and how to determine if a space heater or increasing your furnace’s temperature is a better option for your home.
Understanding the Difference Between Furnaces and Space Heaters
The furnace manages the heat throughout your entire home. It does this by burning fuel to heat the air cycling through the system.
Space heaters that are safe to use inside your home are electric resistance heaters, which are more expensive than using a furnace. Electric space heaters are often discussed as being 100% efficient in that all the energy consumed is translated into heat. Even though furnaces run at about 98% efficiency for high-efficiency models, furnace fuel is much less expensive than electricity, making space heaters a more expensive method for heating.
How Much Space Are You Heating?
One of the big considerations for whether you should use a space heater is the amount of space that you’re heating. The smaller the space is where you want to raise the temperature, the more a space heater becomes a reasonable option. For instance, if you only want your office warmer while you’re working, it would be overkill to raise the temperature thought your home.
However, it’s important to match the heating unit with the size of the space. If you have a tiny ceramic space heater and are attempting to heat a room that’s 10 feet by 12 feet, it’ll have to run constantly to warm it up. Having a larger space heater will help you raise the temperature of the entire room more effectively so that it will cycle on and off, reducing your energy consumption.
How Many Hours a Day Will You Need It?
Beyond the space that you’ll heat, consider how long you’ll want to run the space heater. The longer you run the space heater, the more energy you’ll use.
What that means is that if you’re running your space heater for long periods of time, consider how much you need your furnace. Is it possible to reduce your thermostat setting outside the space you’re occupying? This can help reduce your overall energy consumption so that you can raise the temperature in just that one room.
Other Heating Options to Consider
Rather than using a space heater, you may want to consider modifications to your heating and cooling system. These will be more of an investment than a single space heater, but they’ll pay off in your overall heat management and equity in your home.
One popular option is to implement zoning in your system. This uses a series of dampers in your ducts to direct heat to where it’s needed most. To accomplish this, each zone in your home will use a separate thermostat. This is a great option if you have more than one room, or a larger single room, that has differing heating needs than the rest of your home.
Another option is to install a ductless mini-split system. This is a form of heat pump, but it uses individual wall-mounted air handlers throughout your home rather than a central system. In this regard, it acts like a zoned system, allowing more specific control over various areas of the house. Add to that, you get the efficiency that comes with a heat pump compared to a furnace.
Another important consideration is the safety of heating your space. Furnaces are generally safe when they are properly maintained as there are rigorous state and federal regulations that must be followed when they are manufactured and installed. The heated air that’s coming from your vents isn’t hot enough to burn anyone, and the fuel is tightly regulated.
Space heaters, on the other hand, bring the heat produced much closer to you, increasing the risk of burns from both the unit and the hot air. Moreover, they draw a lot of power, increasing the risk of overpowering your home’s electrical system.
Residents of Arlington Heights have turned to IBBOTSON Heating & Air Conditioning Co. to keep their homes comfortable since 1946. Our team of award-winning technicians provides heating and air conditioning repair, installation, and maintenance together with indoor air quality options. Call to schedule your heating consultation with one of our expert technicians today.